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Your guide to local services for your outdoor living space including a special month-by-month guide of things to do

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My Garden Planner Looking out on to a beautiful garden can really lift our moods and on a warm day our garden can provide a relaxing haven to sit and enjoy the weather. But not all of us are blessed with a creative mind or green fingers and even the best gardeners are always on the lookout for new ideas. My Garden Planner is designed to give advice on a range of gardening tasks to inspire you and help you make the best of your outdoor space. There is something for all circumstances, from how to make the most of a small space, to growing your own vegetables or planning a total landscaping overhaul. Our month-by-month planner will help you keep on top of your garden chores and establish a regular maintenance routine to ensure your outside space looks fantastic all year round. Inside you will also find a guide to local horticultural events and larger national events, as well as details of your nearest gardening clubs and societies. Look out for our top tips too, from gardening experts including celebrity gardeners and Southport Flower Show patrons. There is some green gardening advice to help do your bit for the environment and recommendations for improving the exterior of your home, including driveways, patios, outdoor storage and glazing, that can add value to your property. You will also find contact details for all the experts in your area who you can call on for professional advice and services, so get reading and start your new gardening regime today.



4 Planning 6 Landscaping 8 Improve your space 10 Green gardens 11 Grow your own vegetables 12 Ponds 14 Garden furniture 16 Open gardens 17 An amazing garden 18 Driveways and patios 20 Structures 22 Glazing 24 House exteriors 27 My gardening year

a full 12 month guide

40 Local societies and clubs 42 Top tips from the experts

Š 2010 CMG. All rights reserved. All data supplied in this publication is believed to be correct at time of going to press but is subject to change without notice. E&OE.

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Planning a re-think of your garden can be an exciting task, whether this is to add a new feature or to give it a whole new look. Some simple changes or additions can create new interest in your garden, for example a water feature, rockery, herb garden or vegetable patch. An in-depth re-design will take more careful planning. It is generally easier to remove existing plants instead of designing around them, with the exception of mature trees. If your aim is to enhance existing planting, consider whether your new plants will be happy in that location. For example will they have enough light or shade or will they be disturbed by nearby roots? If you can spare the time, it is helpful to plan out how much sunlight each part of your garden receives each day and organise your planting around this to give sun-loving and shade-loving plants their optimum spot. The same applies for your soil type, so you can


check which type of plants will flourish in your area. Also think about how your garden will look throughout the year and maybe add some winter shrubs that will provide colour and scent through the colder months. Some good examples are cornus sanguinea midwinter fire dogwood or flowering quince. Topiary will also add interest during winter. For a low-maintenance garden, try adding a layer of bark chippings on flowerbeds to deter weeds. Raised flowerbeds can also be lower maintenance, and are easier to care for if you have back trouble or limited mobility. If you are planning a water feature for your garden, think about where cables for pumps or fountains need to be laid before you begin making any alterations. This also needs to be considered if you are thinking about adding a touch of drama to your garden with a lighting scheme, which can help make your garden a usable space at any hour and is a surefire way to impress visitors.



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Whether your garden has seen better days, or if you are itching for a total change, landscaping will provide the overhaul you need. Getting advice from the professionals is a must, to make your investment something you and your family will enjoy for many years to come. Garden designers will be able to make a range of suggestions for transforming spaces of any size, from a compact terrace to more generously proportioned grounds. Choosing to landscape your garden is the ideal opportunity to create the space of your dreams, so make sure you plan it well to include everything you want or need. Do some research and have your own ideas as to what you want from your garden, to give some pointers to your designer. You may wish to have a theme to your garden, such as attracting wildlife, an oriental haven or a Victorian manor - or to create different sections for different purposes, such as eating, storage, planting, relaxing or playing.


Gardening books, magazines and websites are a great place to start looking for ideas, but keep in mind whether styles you see in print would suit your own garden, or may look outof-place. You may also need to plan around nonmovable features such as mature trees. Also keep an eye out for gardening design exhibitions, which will provide you with a wealth of ideas and give access to a wide variety of experts under one roof. After the layout of your garden has been planned, you will have to consider planting, which will depend greatly on the feel of your home and garden. For example, more modern, angular gardens will suit more tropical, architectural plants, whereas cottage style gardens will suit softer planting with smaller blooms. Your garden designer will help ensure that the overall look and feel remains consistent and is suited to your home and your personal taste.





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Improve your space

Smaller gardens can still look stunning with some thought and imagination - but it is not as simple as recreating a larger garden in miniature. First, decide what you want the main use of your garden to be. If it’s for entertaining or al fresco dining, an eating area needs to be the focus of your space. If it’s colour you’re after you need to define your planting areas, or if itís a place for the kids to play you will need to consider a lawned area or other soft surface such as tree bark. If an eating area dominates your garden, some colour and scent may still be introduced by planting climbing flowers to cover walls or fences, for example honeysuckle or wisteria. A patio laid in a stylish pattern will also inject some personality. By creating flower beds in unusual shapes or curves, this will help disguise their small proportions. Flower colours should be kept to a


theme of two or three, to avoid a cluttered look. It is generally thought that cooler colours make a garden look larger. Another trick is to plant darker colours at the front of a border and lighter colours at the back to give the illusion of depth and strategically-positioned garden mirrors will also give an increased feeling of space. If you are short on space for flower beds, investing in some stylish pots to plant your bulbs can instantly bring a garden to life, but keep them clustered together, rather than spread around, to maintain impact. Pots also make it simple to swap plants if you change your mind or they are not growing as expected. While many plants are happy to live in containers, some will not survive. Check your plants regularly - maintenance is especially important in a smaller garden, as any unsightly areas will spoil the look of the whole space.



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Green garden tips

There is increasing pressure on us to help the environment and step-up our green behaviour. The good news is that there are many simple steps we can all take and often these will save money at the same time. Here are a few tips to make your garden more environmentally friendly: u Choose peat-free composts that contain recycled materials. u Recycle excess garden waste via your council’s recycling services. u Use a water butt to help trap rainwater to water your garden throughout the summer u Re-use yoghurt pots and takeaway cartons to plant seedlings in. u To save water, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation instead of sprinkler systems. u Install a sedum roof to garden sheds or summerhouses to replace the lawn or shrubbery lost by the building’s footprint.


u Hang bird boxes and feeders in your garden to attract feathered friends who will help cut down on slugs and snails. u Attracting ladybirds to your garden can also help eliminate plant-eating bugs (special ladybird food is available). u Get a home compost bin or wormery and make your own nutritious compost with kitchen and garden waste. u Items which will make great compost include uncooked kitchen waste such as vegetable trimmings, tea bags and eggshells, annual weeds - before seedheads form, hedge and lawn clippings in thin layers, shredded newspaper or cotton or wool fabrics, shredded woody stems, cardboard, sawdust and straw. u Do not compost cooked kitchen waste, animal products and bones, bread, diseased plant material, weed seedheads, synthetic fabrics, dog or cat waste or unshredded woody material.


Grow your own veg The credit crunch sparked a trend for home grown vegetables and many people are now dedicating an area of their garden to a vegetable plot. Not only will it save on the shopping bill, but home growing is great exercise and nothing beats the satisfaction of serving up your own produce with the Sunday roast. “Anybody can grow anything nowadays,” says Southport’s Town Lane Allotment Association chairman, Derek Thomas. “People with large gardens are tending to split them up a bit and grow a few veg. Even if you have a small garden or a patio you can grow potatoes, runner beans or carrots. You can put a wigwam up to grow French and runner beans to protect them from the wind, or carrots can be grown in half a water butt filled with sandy loam. You don’t need that much space.” Although many vegetables can be grown in a small amount of space, some varieties such as squash need around four feet between plants. Fruit trees and bushes normally are only suited to larger gardens, but trees of small root stock will only grow to eight or nine feet to fit in smaller plots. Soil preparation will depend on the soil type in your garden. Peat-based soil retains moisture so needs little watering, whereas clay-based soil will need preparation to break it down. Horse manure is an ideal, if smelly, product to dress the soil. Sandy soils are ideal for growing root vegetables. This soil type drains well and stays warm longer in autumn. A variety of vegetables can be grown


throughout the year (see below). “You can also do successive growing, to spread the crops over the year,” Derek says. “Instead of sowing four rows of carrots, just sow two and then a couple of weeks later sow another two, then you have successive growing.” But is growing your own worth all the effort? “Home grown tastes better because there are no pesticides – you don’t need it,” says Derek. “It’s cheaper because you can get DEREK THOMAS a packet of 500 seeds for about £1, whereas in supermarkets the majority of your costs is for the packaging, not the contents. And there is nothing more pleasing than seeing your efforts rewarded. You’ve done the growing and at the end you get the produce.” WHEN TO PLANT June - August Broccoli, spring cabbage Sept - Nov Broad beans. Dec - Feb Garlic, broad beans, carrots, leeks. March - May Potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, summer cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks. WHEN TO HARVEST June - August Potatoes (early crop), cauliflower, broad beans. Sept - Nov Potatoes (late crop), summer cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots. Dec - Feb Broccoli March - May Garlic, spring cabbage. TOP TIPS FOR PERFECT VEGETABLES Position Most vegetables grown best in a sunny position sheltered from strong winds. Soil preparation To improve soil dig in well-rotted manure, compost, leafmould, composted bark or mushroom compost. If growing in containers use good quality multipurpose compost. Watering For healthy, strong growth and the highest yields, plants will need a regular supply of water at the roots. Using water gels allows you to water less with optimum results. Feeding Add a general fertiliser a week or so before seed sowing or planting out. Additional light feeds throughout the growing season will be beneficial for many plants and those growing in containers. Mulching Covering the soil with a layer of compost, well-rotted manure or leafmould will keep weed growth to a minimum, conserve soil moisture and help insulate plant roots from extremes of cold and hot weather.


Ponds Ponds or water features can really bring a garden to life. As well as giving an attractive view, they are a haven for wildlife and, with the right care, can be used for keeping fish. The key to a healthy pond is to keep the right balance of plants and oxygen. If the balance is right, the water will appear clear, but if there is an imbalance you will notice an increase in algae growth. Algae is probably the most common complaint about garden ponds, but it can be kept at bay by a number of methods. Algae is caused by an excess of nutrients in the water, such as from a surplus of fish food. Although it is possible to balance nutrient levels with the correct plants, a pond filter is generally a wise investment, especially for beginners, and a good quality pump is a must to keep water flowing. Algae is common in early spring, when the water begins to warm-up but pond plants are yet to become active, creating an imbalance of nutrients. To keep aquatic plants healthy it is a good idea to divide them every two to three years in late spring or early autumn, if they are becoming overgrown or crowded. Divided clumps can then be planted singly. Rotting vegetation and blanket weed should be regularly removed from the pond so that it does not interfere with fish or plants. This is especially important in autumn when dead leaves will be blown into the water, but installing


a net over the pond may help avoid this. Fish are a good way to cut down on pests as they will eat the insect larvae, but ensure there is a sufficient volume of water for the fish to live comfortably. Smaller ponds may need to be dug deeply to give the fish space. In cold weather make sure to take precautions against ice forming across the pond, which can cause a build up of methane gas lethal to fish and may crack the sides of some ponds. An electric pool heater will ensure an area of open water, or alternatively floating a ball on the pond will help prevent ice forming. If you are creating your own pond, providing varying depths of water will attract a variety of wildlife. Shallow areas will be used by egg-laying creatures such as dragonflies and amphibians and will be enjoyed by garden birds searching for a bath. Deeper areas will be inhabited by aquatic insects and swimming newts. Ready-formed pond shapes are widely available, but you may also choose a flexible lining sheet that can be adapted to any shape you desire, or you may choose to have a raised pond. It is worth taking some time to consider the location of your pond. It is best to avoid placing a pond directly beneath a tree or large shrub, as it is likely to prove difficult to keep the water free from leaf debris and nearby roots may damage the pond lining as they grow. Also you may wish to place your pond on a higher part of your garden, to avoid it flooding during rain or watering.


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Garden furniture

Pictures courtesy of Dobbies Garden World

Choosing the right outdoor furniture can make a huge difference to how you use and enjoy your garden. One of the major trends this year is for a Mediterranean feel for your al fresco living area. Dobbies Garden World, Southport, recommend coupling white garden furniture with zesty accessories to keep things fresh and bright. Or use over-sized patio pots, olive trees, citrus plants and a stylish chiminea to re-create an effortlessly warm style and bring a feeling of the summer holidays to your very own back garden. Brightly coloured furniture is also big this year, with the trend being for your chairs and tables to stand out with the blooms rather than blend in with the foliage. Choose items in bold clashing colours to really stand out, or select furniture that matches the colour theme of your planting.


For a smaller or cottage-style garden, a simple, pretty table and matching chairs may be all that you need to create a stylish setting for your al fresco lunch or afternoon tea. For a more natural look than plastic or metal furniture, teak is a popular choice as it is weather resistant and low maintenance. Wicker is an affordable choice and can provide an attractive look in a range of colours. If you are a keen cook when why not invest in a barbecue to take advantage of those gorgeous summer evenings and serve up a treat in style. For those with a larger family, or if you enjoy entertaining, you may wish to buy a garden table with a Lazy Susan, to make passing the salt that bit easier. There is so much choice available now that there is no excuse for your outdoor living space to be any less stylish than the inside of your home.




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Open gardens Summer is the ideal time to visit some of the stunning gardens around Sefton and West Lancashire. The Yellow Book, produced by the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), contains details of more than 3,600 gardens to visit across England and Wales. All the gardens in the scheme are vetted by the NGS, so visitors can be assured of an interesting and eye-catching display. The garden owners charge a small fee for entry and the proceeds go to the NGS, which has raised more than £25 million in the last 10 years for various charities. Most gardens provide refreshments for a small fee, and the home made cakes are a feature. There are some 42 gardens to visit in this area, some of which are ‘group openings’ containing more than one garden. In Southport be sure to pay a visit to Foxbury, 47 Westbourne Road on Sunday June 20, Birkdale Village Gardens on Sundays July 4 and 18, and 4 Brocklebank Road, open Sunday July 25. Four Freshfield gardens will be open to the public on Sunday July 11 from 10.30am to 4.30pm. These are at 2 Gorse Way, 37 Brewery


Lane, Woodlands on Green Lane and The Squirrels on Victoria Road. On Sunday June 27, midday to 5pm, four gardens in Hesketh Bank will be open for viewing, at 155 Station Road, 31 Becconsall Lane, 11 Douglas Avenue and Wedgwood, off Shore Road. Crabtree Lane Gardens, near Burscough, are open Sunday June 13. Visitors can be assured of a warm welcome at any of these gardens. For more details see


An amazing garden As amateur gardeners go, Peter Thornton is one of the best. His garden on Brewery Lane, Formby, has scooped top prize in the Formby Garden Competition 26 times as well as winning Sefton in Bloom prizes five times and numerous other local contests. “I have always loved gardening,” Peter says. “I first got into it when I wanted to earn some pocket money from my father and he told me to dig for victory. “When I was 12, he bought me two allotments and the people who taught me all my gardening skills were Polish refugees in Huddersfield. “I think they felt sorry for me having to clear a piece of field and turn it into an allotment and they helped me for about five years. They were the best gardeners I have ever come across in my life.” Peter’s impressive gardening skills have earned him an invitation to join the National Gardens Scheme, where beautiful gardens across the country are opened to the public for charity. “I am very pleased about that, especially as they came and asked me to join,” Peter says.


Peter experiments with his garden, growing at least two new plants each year, but his favourite has always been the sweet pea, since winning a prize at the Leeds Sweet Pea Show, aged 16. “Maintaining the garden is a year round process,” says Peter. “You can’t give up. There’s the grass to cut all year round - in summer I sometimes cut it every day and in winter I cut it once a week. “Most of the planting is done the third week in May, in time for the competitions which mostly start the first or second week in July, and I am always on the lookout for ideas in other people’s gardens.” Peter’s garden is bursting with blooms, but he says it is his manicured lawn which really impresses judges. “That’s what I specialise in. I spend hours and hours on it so it is short and green,” he says. Peter’s garden will be open to the public on Sunday July 11 from 10.30am to 4.30pm. For more details see the NGS website at


Driveways & Patios Updating your driveway can really improve the kerb appeal of your home and garden. A variety of driveway types are available so it is worth taking some time to consider which will best suit your home. Block paving in contrasting colours and patterns can give a modern look and a similar effect can be gained through pattern-printed concrete, which has the advantage of being difficult for weeds to penetrate. This method needs to be carried out by an expert as mistakes are difficult to rectify. Tarmacadam is a relatively inexpensive method of creating larger driveways, although the red and green varieties will be more pricey. Concrete flagstones are a popular option and are available in many colours. To add variety, a design can be created using different sized stones in a mosaic effect. Stone and slate flags will give a more natural look and are low maintenance. Although this is an expensive option, it may be possible to source reclaimed slabs to cut costs. Gravel is a fairly inexpensive method and again gives a natural look that would be suited to cottage-style gardens. A wide range of colours are available and it is a lowmaintenance option. A patio is an ideal way to enjoy the outdoors,


without the efforts of mowing or weeding. They also provide a dedicated area for al fresco dining, garden furniture and barbeques and can be brightened up with potted shrubs and flowers. When designing patios, it is a good idea to choose a colour that will complement or contrast the rendering of your house, rather than matching it. A darker patio will reduce glare and will feel much warmer than a lighter tone. Unless the soil where you patio will be located is already well compacted, it is likely to need some prior preparation. If the ground is somewhat soft, or has been used as a flowerbed, for example, it will be necessary to compact the area using hardcore rubble and gravel. If you will be using the patio for dining it may be a good idea to position it close to the kitchen, or in a location that will catch the sun throughout the day. If you intend to use it for sunbathing or lounging, an area with natural screening would be best. Flagstones will provide a level surface for easy movement of patio furniture, but various bases can be used including natural stone, block paving and gravel.



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Buildings & Structures

A range of garden buildings and structures can help to add character, security or muchneeded storage space. A garden shed is an obvious choice, and of course these come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials to suit most tastes and budgets. Timber sheds are popular as they can be stained or painted different colours to fit in with the individual garden, but metal or plastic sheds can prove to be more weatherproof in the long-term. Sales of larger sheds and Wendy houses have reportedly quadrupled over the past year, with many being used to give teenage children their own private space or to provide an extra room to enjoy the garden. Small wooden Wendy houses also make an ideal play area for younger children, who will love being able to set up their own mini-home in the back yard. For smaller gardens, a range of more compact storage units are available, for example bike lockers, lockable weatherproof cabinets or wheelie bin stores to keep unsightly bins out of view.


You may wish to consider having a brick outbuilding constructed as a permanent and secure home for gardening or other bulky equipment. Planning permission is not always necessary for sheds or outbuildings, but it is worth checking with your local authority’s planning department for advice before beginning any constructions. Fencing is an often-overlooked aspect of the garden, but the right type of fencing can make the world of difference. If you have small children or pets, it is a wise idea to invest in taller fencing to keep them secure in your garden and prevent them from intruding on neighbours, but normally fences should not exceed two metres in height. Lower fencing will allow more light into a smaller garden, or a compromise may be to have low solid fencing with a section of trellis attached to the top. Fencing professionals will be able to advise you as to what would be the best type of fencing to suit your needs and complement your garden.




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Glazing The right use of glazing can really transform the way you view and use your garden. For example, adding a conservatory to your home can both extend your living space and improve your enjoyment of your garden. Conservatories are the most common home improvement and it is easy to see why they are so popular. Most domestic conservatories are built from a uPVC and aluminium frame, that can come in a range of coloured finishes to suit your home. There are also a range of architectural styles to choose from. The advantages of uPVC frames is they will not need painting, although they will need cleaning regularly. Hardwood framed conservatories are an alternative to uPVC and would be ideal for homes in a conservation area or older properties that would require sensitive alterations. Specialist blinds can be designed for conservatories, to keep them cool and shaded


when necessary and help prevent furniture inside from fading. Remember to check whether you will require planning permission for your conservatory. If a conservatory is not possible for your garden, investing in new windows for your home can help improve the outlook on your outside space. Good quality double glazing will save on your energy bills and will cut the maintenance needed for older-style window frames. It will also improve the look of your home to passers by and visitors. Greenhouses are another form of garden glazing that can make a wise investment. If you are green-fingered, greenhouses are ideal for sowing vegetables such as peppers, aubergines and tomatoes before putting them in the ground. It is possible to buy greenhouses in a range of sizes, and of wooden or metal frames, to suit your needs, and some companies can also provide a bespoke structure.



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House exteriors

It is a good idea to complement changes to your garden with improvements to the exterior of your home, to maintain a tidy and attractive appearance. There are many ways to revive your home and add value at the same time. Updating the rendering on your house, or giving it a new coat of paint, will make a huge difference to the look of your outside space and really give it some personality. Even re-pointing brickwork can give your home a tidier appearance. Replacing a tired garage door can also give your house an instant facelift. “There are all different styles to suit any home or taste and they can be made from wood, steel or fibreglass,” Gary Heaton of West Lancs Garage Doors says. “A lot of people are deciding to revamp their garage doors because it makes the whole of the house look better and adds value to the home.” Doors can have a manual action or remote control. Many homeowners are also choosing


to create extra space within their home by converting their adjoining garage into an extra room. Maybe you are looking for some extra living space, a playroom for the children, or even a gym or home cinema. Always contact a specialist for this type of job, to ensure the work complies with building regulations and is up to a professional standard. Several factors will need to be assessed, such as the depth of foundation under the garage, drainage conditions and whether nearby trees or buildings would be affected. Changes may also need to be made to the existing walls, roof and floor. Planning permission is not normally required for this type of work, as long as it does not involve extending the building, but it is best to check first with your local authority’s planning department. Adding a porch or a canopy to your home can also add style and value, and provide a handy shelter for fumbling for your keys in the rain. Make sure the style is in-keeping with your home to ensure it enhances the look rather than detracting from it.




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My Gardening Year

Your 12 month guide of what to do and when to do it MY GARDEN PLANNER


January PROTECTIVE MOVE Early in the month, if there is a vacant sheltered spot in the vegetable plot, any exposed Brussels sprouts, savoys and late cabbage can be moved there if they are lifted with their roots intact. WARM THE GROUND Mid-month, where early crops are to be sown, cover the ground with cloches or spare frame lights, so that it is dry and comparatively warm before the seed goes in. KEEP OFF If you have managed to do any digging, keep off the cultivated land until conditions improve, or the soil structure will be impaired. CUT PRIVET Later in the month, where privet hedges have got out of hand, this is a good time to cut them back hard and encourage new strong basal growth.

SOW LUPINS If you can lay your hands on a few lupin seeds, sow them now for flower in late summer.

Lupin seeds

The dawn of a new gardening year



February CHECK SUPPORTS If you have any walltrained fruit trees or bushes, check that the supports are in good order before the new season’s growth makes fresh demands on them. EXTRA HELLEBORES Although prefering to be left, helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose, should re-establish if propagated by division immediately after flowering. LAWN CARE Any turfing should be completed as conditions allow. By the end of the month it will be time to think about preparing ground for sowing new areas.



SUMMER BEDDING If not yet dealt with, summer bedding schemes should be planned at the earliest opportunity so that seed orders can be sent in as soon as possible. START FUCHSIAS Fuchsia stock plants can be started into growth to encourage the production of shoots which will serve as cuttings in March. FORCING As temperatures improve there is less need to bring seakale and rhubarb inside for forcing. They can be covered where they are planted. CAMELLIAS When pot grown camellias pass out of flower they can be top-dressed or repotted to sustain them through the growing season. BULBS As early potted bulbs cease flowering, the pots or bowls can be laid on their sides and the bulbs allowed to die back naturally. This allows food in the foliage to be drawn into the bulbs, building them up for next season. As an alternative they can be heeled-in in a nursery plot, provided they are first hardened-off. SEED SOWING The busy season for seed sowing approaches, and it is always worth sowing thinly. This way seedlings have room to develop, and will not become overcrowded if pricking off is delayed.


March STOP SLUGS The appearance of new shoots on the likes of herbaceous perennials will prove attractive to slugs. Bait tubs with milk or beer and sink them into the ground for the slugs to drown in. Not a pleasant prospect for the slug, but likely to be preferable to a chemically induced demise! STOP STRANGLING As the sap begins to flow and the stems and trunks of trees and shrubs begin another season’s growth, check around any ties. If they are tight, slacken them a little to allow room for expansion. SOW CHRYSANTHS Cascade and Charm chrysanthemums can be sown now in gentle heat. Cascades need careful training to obtain the best results, but Charms are an easy way to a riot of flowers. TREES AND SHRUBS It may not be necessary to say this if wet conditions prevail, but if there are any dry periods, take care to ensure that newly planted trees and shrubs are given sufficient water. In extreme conditions it may also be necessary to syringe or spray over the foliage. THIN LETTUCE Early sowings of lettuce should be ready for thinning. At this time the thinnings can be transplanted if needed - a practice which should not be carried out later in the year because of the danger of bolting. FEED ROSES By now the roses should have been pruned, and will benefit from a top dressing of rose fertiliser. SOW CAMPANULAS A nice trailing, freeflowering pot plant which can be sown now is Campanula isophylla. It can be had in both white and blue flowered forms, but must be grown under glass. TIDY IVY Ivy growing on walls can be clipped now, using shears. If the job is left, growth may become excessive and untidy during the summer.


CLEAR CROPS Where just a few plants of crops such as leeks and celery remain, they can be lifted so that the ground can be prepared for new crops. PLANT RANUNCULUS If you have ranunculus which were lifted for storage last autumn, they can be planted as soon as ground conditions will allow. They should be set about 5cm (2in) deep. Ranunculus blooms


April STAKE EARLY As fresh shoots appear on herbaceous plants, give them support with twigs and small branches to lessen the chance of damage. Placed with care, they will eventually disappear as the foliage grows through and around them. TRIM LOBELIA Blue lobelia which is growing well can be trimmed back a little to make it thicken out. SOW PEAS Ensure succession by making a sowing of second early peas. SOW ANNUALS Once the weather improves a little, seed of annuals can be sown outdoors in the place where it will flower - an easy and colourful way of filling gaps in the border. There is also some value in having an area devoted entirely to them. Sowings for such an annual border can be made now, in situ. Remember to hoard twigs and prunings for supporting taller types. SOW PANSIES Pansies flower well in mild conditions. To have a supply for next year, sow now in boxes of light soil. Transfer the seedlings to grow on in a frame prior to planting out in October.

PLANT SWEET PEAS Provided they have been well hardened off, sweet peas sown in January should be about ready for planting. Take out a large hole with a trowel, and spread the roots before covering. BETTER BLOOMS If you want bigger and better blooms in the perennial border, then try thinning the number of shoots down to half a dozen per plant. Plants which will benefit include delphiniums, heleniums, lupins and phlox. LAYER SHRUBS Many shrubs can be propagated by layering. Select a suitable branch or stem which can be encouraged to bend down to the ground, and make a slicing cut part way through a joint. If needed keep the wound open with a small stone. Bury the cut part just below the soil surface, keeping it in place with a wooden peg or a stone until rooting takes place. SOW SWEET CORN Sweet corn can be started under glass. Either sow singly in pits, or space sow at 50-75mm (2-3in) centres in deep boxes.

Be prepared with stakes to help support new growth in the herbaceous border



May HERBACEOUS CUTTINGS Many herbaceous plants can be propagated by making cuttings of the new shoots appearing now. With those such as delphiniums - which might benefit from a little thinning - the shoots can be inserted in frames or pots. Kept covered for a week or two, they should root readily. HARDEN CELERY Celery sown in heat will be ready to plant out at the end of this month or early in June. Take all opportunities to hardenoff, so minimising the risk of any shock at planting time. SUMMER BEDDING Now’s the time to be thinking about lifting spring bedding plants to make way for summer plants. SUPPORT GLADIOLI Don’t allow gladioli to grow too tall before staking them. By the time they have reached (30cm) a foot, a strong stake should be in and the first tie made. EARTH POTATOES Earth up potatoes as growth is made. If you think they will benefit from additional fertiliser, dust a little along the rows before drawing the soil up. KEEP TIDY Climbers and wall plants are starting to grow away with vigour. Keep on top of them by tying in the stems before they become entangled and are difficult to manage.

TIE RASPBERRIES As new shoots continue to make growth on autumn-fruiting raspberries which were cut back in February, they should be tied in.



June TIME TO PRUNE Early-flowering shrubs which have finished their displays such as lilac, diervilla, forsythia, deutzia and so on can be pruned if required. Remove weaker growths first, and then any which are overcrowding or invading space where they are not wanted. RASPBERRY BEETLE If raspberry beetle is an expected problem, it may be controlled by dusting the fruit clusters with derris some ten days after the flowers have gone over. Never dust open flowers which are still being visited by bees. PINCH PEAS Remove the growing points from early peas which have finished flowering to concentrate energies on pod production. BOOST GLADIOLI Better blooms can be expected on gladioli if they are boosted with a programme of liquid feeding. From now through to the first appearance of flower, make an application every 10-14 days.

LATE RUNNERS It seems but a moment since the season for sowing runner beans started, and yet already it is at an end. A final sowing can be made in milder areas, to produce crops until the end of October. FEED ANTIRRHINUMS Antirrhimuns can be improved if weak liquid manure is applied at fortnightly intervals. GOOSEBERRIES Gooseberries in full fruit should be picked over. Remove young green berries for cooking or preserving; but leave an ample number to mature for dessert. I would normally advise watering in hot, dry periods and feed with liquid manure, but hesitate to do so in current circumstances. PANSIES Make a sowing of winter-flowering pansies for a display next winter/spring.

Now’s the time to encourage pod production in peas



July LIFT BULBS Spring bedding bulbs, such as tulips and hyacinths which were set in nursery rows to complete their growth, should be about ready for lifting, cleaning, drying and storing. SUMMER PRUNE Wall-trained plums and cherries, with the exception of Morello, can have side-shoots which made growth over the last couple of months, shortened back by a third. Spread the work over several weeks. AZALEA CUTTINGS My Indian azaleas are plunged outside for the season and are growing away well. I’ll be taking cuttings which, when set in a shaded cold frame, should root within the month. THINNING Rows of seed sown in June will need thinning. Carrots, beet, turnips, lettuce and the like will be ready. Water after thinning to settle those left back in place and avoid a check.

Schizanthus Pinnatus

BUY CABBAGE Obtain cabbage seed for sowing later in the month or in early August, to provide crops next spring. SCHIZANTHUS Buy seed of schizanthus, the Butterfly Flower, for sowing in August and September to produce displays from April to June next year. Azalea cuttings need to be taken now



August COMPOST The volume of waste material from the garden tends to increase at this time and unless diseased is useful for composting. Dry material should be moistened to speed decay, and a dressing of sulphate of ammonia or a proprietary accelerator helps the process. PLANT SEEDLINGS Seedlings of wallflower, myosotis, digitalis and the like should be ready for transplanting. Dress the nursery bed with general fertiliser, which can be raked in. Then plant the seedlings 225mm (9in) apart in shallow drills 300mm (12in) apart. The drill will make watering easier until the plants establish. REMOVE HEADS Removing the seed heads from bedding dahlias will encourage them to continue producing flowers. CHERRY PIE Heliotrope or Cherry Pie is normally grown as a half-hardy annual. Cuttings can be taken in autumn and overwintered under glass.

CLEAN GLASSHOUSES Take the opportunity afforded by fine weather to move plants out of the glasshouse and give it a thorough cleaning. GERANIUM CUTTINGS A start can be made to making cuttings of zonal and ivy-leaved forms of geranium. Select shoots 125mm (5in) long without flower and take care to select them evenly from amongst the display. PENSTEMONS Penstemons make fine border and bedding plants that flower through summer and autumn. Cuttings can be taken now from unflowered shoots and inserted in a frame of sandy soil. START CYCLAMEN Rested corms of Cyclamen persicum can be restarted to growth after cleaning up and repotting. STOP WEEDS Keep the hoe going on a frequent basis to prevent weeds becoming established and seeding.

One of the gardener’s friends



September SOW LAWNS This is a good time to make lawns using seed. The days are shortening, and by the time the seed has germinated and the grass begins to grow we shall be well into autumn. There will be ample time for good root development before winter sets in, and little risk from sun scorch. APPLES AND PEARS Early varieties of apple and pear can be picked when slightly under ripe. Take care not to leave pears for too long, or they will got soft from the middle. DISBUD CYCLAMEN The appearance of cyclamen flowers is eagerly awaited. A better effect is achieved if the first to form are removed, allowing the strength of the plant to build. STORE SUPPORTS As stakes and canes come free from cleared crops, remove them from the soil and clean and dry them before storing.


SPACE CABBAGE If you have cabbage to plant, space some at 30 x 22cm (12 x 9 ins). After Christmas alternate plants can be used as early greens, leaving the reminder to grow to maturity. SWEET PEAS Early blooms of sweet pea can be had from sowings made at the beginning of October, so it’s time to order seed. WORM CASTS With dew and humidity, moist worm casts are more persistent. It is a good idea to scatter them before mowing, lest the flattened heap provides a toe-hold for weeds. FINAL TRIM The growth of hedges will be slowing down, and any that need tidying can be given a final trim. TAKE NOTE Make a note in your diary of new plantings and their rough position. It’s amazing how labels can disappear over the year.


October SPRING FLOWER When planting crocus, grape hyacinths, scillas and the like out in the garden, keep a few back for potting for an early indoor display. LIFT GLADIOLI Loosen the ground with a fork and then lift gladioli. Cut off the stem just above the corm and ensure that they are dry before placing in store. PLANT PAEONIES Paeonies can be planted now. They need deep, rich soil and prefer a little shade to full sun. COMPOST Make a fresh compost heap, so that the one in current use will provide material for digging-in later on. PROTECT STRAWBERRIES Strawberries potted for forcing early next year should be given protection against frost. Plunge the pots in sand or leaf-mould or stand in a cold frame. SPARE BULBS Any unused bulbs can still be potted for a display in late winter.

Plant winter lettuce in cold frames

LETTUCE Plant winter lettuce in cold frames, keeping them well ventilated when conditions allow. Take precautions against slugs. START DIGGING As land becomes vacant in the vegetable plot, a start can be made to digging when ground conditions are good. Remember to leave the ground rough to allow maximum penetration by frost.

Make a fresh compost heap



November ROTATE On the vegetable plot, don’t forget to rotate your cropping plan both to reduce any build-up of pest or disease, and to create the right levels of food in the ground for various crops. In general, lime for brassicas, incorporate manure for legumes, and apply general fertiliser for root crops. CUT MINT Use shears to cut back clumps of mint to near ground level. Take the opportunity to remove any weeds which may have become established, and then apply a top-dressing of compost or leaf-mould. The old growth is not suitable for drying, but an extra supply can be had by lifting a clump of roots, potting or boxing them and placing them in a glasshouse or by a window, where the temperature will not fall below 13C (53F).


ROOT PRUNING Any root pruning due to be carried out to reduce vigour and induce fruiting, should be carried out before conditions deteriorate. LIFT OR LEAVE? Although parsnips and horseradish are hardy, and the flavour of parsnips is improved by frost, it still makes sense to lift and store a proportion of the crop to allow for days when the ground is too frozen for lifting. ENGINE CARE Four-stroke engines on garden machinery that is not to be used for some time, will benefit if a little protective oil is squirted into cylinder and then the engine rotated until both valves are closed. PINCH SPROUTS Encourage the topmost Brussels sprouts to swell by pinching out the stem tip.


December GLADIOLI Gladioli, lifted and tied in bundles or placed in boxes to dry, may be ready for cleaning. If the foliage has withered completely, force the old corm from beneath the new with your thumb nail. Pull off the dried leaves and store in a dry, frost-free place. WHAT - NO CATALOGUES? If you find yourself without catalogues, send off straight away. The season for planning next year’s displays and produce is upon us. CLOCHE CELERY The tops of celery can be protected, either using straw or by placing cloches along the ridge. PINCH CHERRIES If a new flush of growth starts to appear on Christmas cherries Solanum capsicastrum - and threatens to hide the colourful fruits, it should be pinched out.

CHOOSE WITH CARE When buying poinsettias, choose plants with healthy bracts and good colour. Also check the small flowers in the centre of the head. Ideally these should just be showing colour. If they have already opened fully or gone over, then the display will be that little bit shorter. PRUNING CARE When pruning out larger branches with a saw, first make a cut on the underside, prevent bark tearing back as the branch comes away. With some branches it is a good idea to cut through initially some way from the final position, leaving a smaller and more manageable piece to be removed with less chance of damage.

When choosing Poinsettias select plants with healthy bracts and good colour



Local Clubs Here are details of some of the great gardening clubs and societies in your area:

Ainsdale Horticultural Society The society first met in 1911 with the aim of promoting horticulture through exhibitions and lectures. The society celebrates its centenary next year, although it will not be the 100th show as the club’s equipment was damaged by a German bomb during World War II. The club is keen to have new members and exhibitors and has a strong children’s and teenagers’ section. For details call 01704 545062 or see www.

Aughton and Ormskirk Gardening Society The society meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 8pm, from September to May at Aughton Village Hall, Winifred Lane. New members and guests are welcome.

Formby Flower Club The society, founded in 1968, holds regular meetings with demonstrations from professional flower arrangers and trips to gardens and competitions. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month, except August and December, 7.30pm at Oakleaf Hall Royal British Legion, Whitehouse Lane, Formby. For membership details call 01704 872760.


Formby Horticultural Society Founded in 1886, the society holds a annual summer and autumn shows and gives prizes for the best front and back gardens in the village. Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of every month, with a break during the summer, at the luncheon club, Rosemary Lane, Formby. If you are interested in joining the society call 01704 872881.

Hightown Gardening Club The club, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010, has more than 70 members and holds regular events and talks throughout the year. Meetings are held on the second Monday of each month, 7.45pm, at St Stephen’s church hall, St Stephens Road, Hightown. For membership details call 0151 9292124.

Maghull and District Flower Club This relatively new club was founded in 1999 and holds talks, visits and workshops throughout the year. Meetings are held on the fourth Monday of the month, except August and December, 7.30pm at St George’s Social Centre, Station Road, Maghull. To join call 0151 526 5755 or 0151 526 6869.


& Societies Maghull Horticultural Society The society will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, after forming in 1941 as a response to the Dig for Victory campaign. Monthly meetings are held from September to May at the United Reformed Church Hall, off Larchwood Avenue, Maghull.

Parbold, Newburgh and District Gardening Society The club was formed in 1970 and meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month, from February to July and September to November, in the WI Hall, The Common, Parbold. For information on joining the society or if you wish to attend a meeting, call 01704 893124.

Skelmersdale Horticultural Society This is an allotment society, which over the years has dramatically improved an overgrown, under used and vandalised site to 25 full working plots at Houghtons Road, Skelmersdale. The site has a 2.4m security fence, water standpipes and storage facilities. For more details contact Stephen Martin on 01695 720636 or email


Southport Chrysanthemum and Gardening Society From September to May, usually on the last Wednesday of each month, the society holds its meeting at Lord Street West Church Hall, on the corner of Lord Street and Duke Street, beginning at 8pm. Now in its 60th year, the society has a membership of more than 200 and new members are always welcome. Contact secretary Alan Foxall on 01704 214164.

Southport Horticultural Society Originally formed in 1987 to preserve the Southport Flower Show, Southport Horticultural Society hold meetings at the Royal Clifton Hotel, the Promenade, on the third Thursday of each month. New members are welcome to attend the meetings. The club also organises social events and trips throughout the year and a plant sale each May. For details of how to join call 01704 224687 or 01704 578296.

West Lancashire Flower Club The club was founded in 1953 and has more than 200 members. Meetings are held at St James’ Memorial Hall, Lulworth Road, Birkdale, Southport, at 2pm on the third Wednesday of every month, except September when it is the fourth Wednesday. No meetings are held in August or December. For membership information call 01704 579195.


Top Tips “A waterbut fed from the gutter that overflows into two small

“When your first seeds have germinated, don”t go mad

ponds the first one for frogs and the second one for goldfish

and grow everything in sight. It is exciting when you see your

are ideal. Never ever put the goldfish in with the frogs because

first seeds come up, but only grow what you will eat. It is very

they eat tadpoles. Its not rocket science to get it right and

tempting to grow far too many vegetables, even those you don”t

very soon your own airways will be blessed with damsel and

particularly like.”

even dragonflies. Yes and swallows dipping down to feed on a

Tricia Pearce, chairman, Ainsdale Horticultural Society

myriad of tiny insects. “For those who can only sport a wall, try espaliered crab

“Just as the winter tried gardeners’ patience, so I am sure

apples, blossom to attract in the bees of may and food for

the summer will bring unexpected surprises as plants respond

migrating birds in autumn. Hanging baskets (no sphagnum or

to the challenge to make up for lost time. No matter how difficult

other moss please) and window boxes bring the scents and

the season, I always say that nature sorts thing out in the end

sensibility of biodiversity back into our lives.

and this year there will be no better or more rewarding place

“Then please support your local flower show and I hope to see you at Southport this year.”

than The Southport Flower Show to see the results.” Prof Stefan Buczacki, Southport Flower Show patron

Prof David Bellamy “Put comfrey leaves or horse manure in a plastic builders” “We’ve had a harsh winter but one useful tip is not to do anything drastic with trees, shrubs or climbers that look as if

bag, tie the top and punch holes in the bag – put it in a water butt and you’ve got liquid manure.”

they have succumbed until the beginning of July. It’s surprising

Derek Thomas,

how long some things take to recover and my advice is don’t

chairman of Town Lane Allotment Association

dig out anything perennial unless it has failed to show any green growth by 1st July.” Prof Stefan Buczacki, Southport Flower Show patron

“Don”t neglect plants you are growing in pots - they need water more than ever during the summer.” Adrian Williams, chairman of Maghull Horticultural Society

“It is important to enrich your soil with a good soil conditioner in April. When growth starts in May, follow up with

“Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your dishes. Grow

a plant food that encourages flowering such as pelleted poultry

them near to the kitchen door, but sow basil indoors on a

manure, good but smelly!”

windowsill and put in a greenhouse or sheltered situation –

Richard James (Foxbury), member of the National Gardens Scheme

remember it’s a Mediterranean plant.” Tricia Pearce, chairman, Ainsdale Horticultural Society

“Remove all objects such as stones and glass from the soil

“A well ordered compost heap does away with the need for

before planting carrots, or if the carrot hits them as it grows it

peat and a wild patch buzzing with biodiversity like butterflies,

will cause ‘legs’ to form.”

moths, bees, hoverflies, worms and other creepy-crawly corner

Derek Thomas, chairman of Town Lane Allotment Association

is number one in any garden that is big enough.

“For a impressive lawn you need to cut it, feed it and water

this area indeed, I beg you to go easy with such chemicals in

“Any form of pesticide or herbicide should be banned from it regularly.” Peter Thornton, award-winning Formby gardener


your real quality time working out in the garden.” Prof David Bellamy


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Plant. Grow. Enjoy.

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My Garden Planner  

A handy guide to getting the best from your outdoor space

My Garden Planner  

A handy guide to getting the best from your outdoor space